Kind of like chickens had become the urban farming craze, raising rabbits has become a new suburban obsession as kids are looking to bring the farm home with them. Using many of the same principles as raising chickens, including the need for designated areas and structures, rabbits provide a soft alternative that young children often have an explosive love for. Like any alternative pet, the cost can often skyrocket since you have to go outside conventional channels to get everything you need. Keeping rabbits does not need to break your bank, and there are a lot of ways that you can raise rabbits on a budget. Here are a few points to keep in mind when you are starting your new long-eared community.
The primary point of purchase is going to be the rabbit hutch. Many people think they can start with a smaller habitat and then find a larger rabbit hutch as the family expands or as they are more financially secure, but in reality this means multiple purchases and often times can end up creating more problems in the meantime. Save up and purchase a rabbit hutch that is going to meet all of your needs before you even purchase your rabbits. This will help to show you how much room you actually have for your rabbits, and can reduce the number that you will actually end up purchasing. This rabbit hutch needs to mix accessibility and durability with a reasonable price. This means finding one that can really match the needs of your space and rabbit population. It should include at least one enclosed cabinet or cottage area with some netted areas and bottom trays for easy stuffing replacement and cleaning. It will also need to have a ramp to the outside and an “outdoor” enclosed area that is essentially fenced in. Both the indoor and outdoor areas should have doors for easy access, and the inside should have multiple points where you can open it up otherwise cleaning on your own will be next to impossible. Storage slots on the outside are also a plus so you can keep food and supplies in the same structure without having to expand into the home. This structure can be designed both for indoors or outdoors depending on what your preference is, but often times the larger structures are best for the outdoors. This should be a consideration for you anyway since the smell of rabbits can often overpower a room.
The rabbit hutch is where the money should be spent, but after that it is easy to replace expensive rabbit “products” with things from around the home. Rabbit water pans are often overpriced and can easily be replaced with a tin or other metal dish for next to nothing. Dewdrop waterers are better, and you can still get these for just a few dollars. Rabbit stuffing is commonly bought in bulk, which is a better choice than purchasing it in the smaller amounts, but it can also be easily replaced with sawdust or torn up newspaper.
Commercial pellets are a cheap way to maintain nutritional feed for your rabbits. People often prefer to use carrots, greens, and other plants to feed them a more natural meal. The best solution if you are looking to give them the most nutrition while maintaining a budget is to combine the two. Give them regular pellets mixed in with some different vegetables to fill out their diet. You are really going to see this in the maintenance of their health and notice the sheen in their coat as proof.
The best way to save money when raising rabbits is honestly to just do things correctly, otherwise your rabbits could become sick or injured. This is a much more serious and expensive situation than the regular maintenance, so watching their health and wellbeing closely is important. Do not keep them outside if the weather becomes excessively cold, even if they have an indoor rabbit hutch, unless they have a sufficient heater available. Make sure that they eat and drink regularly, and watch for illness that can strike. This can happen especially if the rabbit hutch is not cleaned regularly, which will also become a sanitation concern for you and your family. Keep basic cleaning elements like bleach and Formula 409 to clean the area, but do not let the rabbits back in until the area is fully cleaned out so there is no chemical residue. You can go with alternative cleaners like white vinegar and baking soda as well, and you may even want to use baking soda in with the stuff to reduce the odor for longer. This is also a much less expensive alternative to deodorizers that pet stores sell for rabbit hutches.
When it comes to travel carriers you are really going to save those extra dollars by finding ones that are smaller in size and more fit to a rabbit’s particular shape. This means fundamentally rejecting the larger “crate” type carriers in favor of the smaller bag forms. These are also often used for smaller dog breeds and cats, and often have a more cloth or canvas feel to them that gives them a flexible shape. These are on the less expensive side, and may actually provide your rabbit with even more comfort when you are on the road. You may also want to consider getting them a pet-specific bike trailer if you do a lot of bike and camping trips.